What went wrong at the dam happened long before it was built. What went wrong occured before the dam was even conceived by a starry-eyed man needing water in the desert. What went wrong began when civilization began.
As Native American, Ohiyesa is quoted in the book Touch the Earth, "As a child I understood how to give, I have forgotten this grace since I became civilized."
Civilization--we know now is neither in sync with our instincts nor does it hold the promise of something better. Even in 1930 the promise of civilization was questioned, liberally by those who did not have to struggle or stand in line for a meal and a place to sleep. And ultimately by those who did struggle and did go hungry and homeless.
Conceptually and realistically what we have created for ourselves on planet earth is tragic. We find beauty within this tragedy, and thus we tell our stories to remind us of this beauty.
One story is of the Apache that came to do the high scalers job at the Hoover Dam. They were fearless of the canyon, familiar with the terrain, yet faceless to the bosses who wanted their expertise for the job not their intuition as human beings. The Apache were not familiar with the idea of hope or the promise of something better. But this is what they were given, a due reward from civilization itself.
Yet they did not give back, for they were part of civilization themselves. They took their due, spent the idea of hope the promise of something better, carried it around, not knowing what to do with ideals that had no worth to them.